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Yombe Ngobudi mask

Yombe Ngobudi mask
Yombe Ngobudi maskYombe Ngobudi maskYombe Ngobudi maskYombe Ngobudi mask
Tribe: Yombe
Country: Kasadi, Democratic Republic of Congo
Ritual: Communal
Name: Ngobudi
Materials: Wood, pigment
Provenance: Coll. Andrew Turley, Foumban, Cameroon 2009
Comments: Age estimated at circa 1970 to 1980

Kongo artists carved numerous figures and objects generally characterised by naturalistic features, although minor stylistic tribal variations do occur.

These masks found within Yombe and Villi were worn during initiation ceremonies and the funerals of important personalities, but were also embodied with a judiciary power for religious, social and political tasks. In addition priests among the Yombe use these masks to detect sorcerers and reveal the cause of misfortunes. The term Ngobudi, generally applied to these masks, alludes to their terrifying nature. Beyond this they had special names that referred to a force (nkisi) possessed by the mask and its owner, which could be controlled through ritual activities and turned to the welfare of the community.

Yombe masks have realistic features such as carved ears and filed teeth.

This mask shows a significant amount of wear to holes and a worn patina on the rear. A small portion of wood has been lost from the back of the mask around the rear chin area revealing blackened sections of holes which are also wider on the outside indicating that the have been burnt through. Its features are sharp, with a realistic and finely carved ears and pinched nose. It has a deep forehead, cheeks and an expressive mouth.

The fourth image shown above is from Masks of Black Africa by Ladislas Segy (plate 209) and is described as - Bakongo (Kongo), Zaire, 10 "A rather stylised, white-faced mask with a conical black hairdo". The file-down teeth are a typical feature of Bakongo statuary.


  1. The Tribal Arts of Africa, J.B. Bacquart. 1998.
  2. A History of African Art, Harry. N. Abrams Inc Publisher NY 2001.
  3. Masks of Black Africa. Ladislas Segy. 1976.